VILLA GROVE – If nothing else, history is on Villa Grove's side.
On paper it would appear the 16th-seeded Blue Devils don't stand a chance at No. 1 Mount Olive, but games aren't played on paper. The Villa Grove locals have reminded first-year coach Chad Musselman of that every chance they get.
They tell him about the 1997 Villa Grove team that went into the playoffs as a No. 30 seed and knocked off No. 3 Sciota Northwestern-LaHarpe.
"That's how this community is, they remember things like that," Musselman said. "That team went to the semifinals, so it really could happen."
If it is to happen, the Blue Devils are going to have to play much better than they have of late. After starting the season 5-1, they've lost three straight and were one of the last teams in Class 1A to get into the postseason.
But it's not as if Villa Grove is losing to cupcakes. Its losses came at the hands of Our Lady of Providence, a school in southeast Indiana, which has 367 more students than Villa Grove. And losses to Little Okaw Valley co-champion Arcola and playoff-qualifier Sangamon Valley are nothing to scoff at.
"It's a combination of us playing good teams and us not playing a full game," Musselman said. "We haven't played awful off the bat, but the situation has been if we don't throw the first punch we put our heads down and we don't play."
Mount Olive is averaging about 40 points a game, so Villa Grove knows it will have its hands full trying to stop the Wildcats' offense, which Musselman said pretty much runs right at you.
"They are very, very big," he said. "They don't do a single thing that is fancy, but they methodically go down the field and before you know it, they're up by 28. I watch film on them and they're like a machine, they do everything correct."
The Blue Devils have a pretty good running attack of their own, led by Rob Renfrow (1,489 yards). Villa Grove won't try to trade scores with Mount Olive; instead it will try to control the game by getting the ball in the hands of Renfrow as often as possible.
"We've got a big line and a good running back," Villa Grove guard Sam Howard said. "We've just got a good backfield in general, so I think we should be able to run the football."